What is a Parlay? How to Bet on Parlays

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(Ian D'Andre/Wikimedia Commons)
BetMGM @BETMGM Apr 20, 2022, 8:17 PM

Parlays are unique opportunities to leverage your sports betting knowledge into bigger payouts and more excitement. A multi-game or One Game Parlay combines multiple bets (aka “legs”) into one wager. In doing so, the odds climb, as does the potential payout if all the bets hit.

What is a Parlay?

Often employed as a low-risk, high-reward opportunity, parlays aren’t limited to one type of bet (e.g., money line or spread) or one sport; bettors may build a parlay of five MLB money line bets or a parlay of 12 money line, spread, and over/under bets across several sports.

Or you can build a parlay over one game.

What is a One Game Parlay?

One Game Parlays allow fans to combine their favorite bets for one game. Instead of placing a single $10 bet on the Boston Celtics money line (-250) against the Los Angeles Lakers for a $14 payout on April 15, you can add several additional bets to increase payout and entertainment value.

For example, a One Game Parlay option for the Celtics-Lakers game:

  • Celtics money line
  • Dennis Schröder: 2+ 3-pointers
  • Jaylen Brown: 4+ 3-pointers
  • Jayson Tatum: 4+ 3-pointers

Schröder has 15 games this season with at least two three-pointers, while Brown has 12 games with at least four three-pointers, and Tatum has 16 games with at least four three-pointers. If all four legs hit, your $10 bet will return a payout of $105.

What is a Multi-Game Parlay?

If you prefer to spread out the parlay excitement over multiple games, you have endless options. Here’s a real-world example of a multi-game parlay:

Shortly after 5 p.m. ET on April 6, Akil Baddoo’s RBI single scored Harold Castro and gave the Detroit Tigers a 10-inning win over the Minnesota Twins. It was the first career walk-off hit for the rookie and the first win in a 10-leg MLB parlay for a BetMGM customer in Michigan.

The Michigan customer built a 10-team parlay of all MLB bets but used both money line bets (four) and over/under bets (six).

How to Place a Parlay Bet

At BetMGM, placing a parlay bet is simple.

First, select the event you’d like to include in the parlay. Browse the betting options for that event and select the bet you’d like to add to the betting slip.

After you’ve added multiple bets to your betting slip, you may submit wagers for those bets individually or combine them into a parlay.

Maybe the Michigan customer added the Tigers’ money line (+110) and the Atlanta Braves-Washington Nationals over 7.5 (-115) to their betting slip. Instead of placing two separate bets for $42 apiece with a total payout of $166.72 if both hit (or $88.20 if only the Tigers hit, or $78.20 if only the Braves-Nationals hit), they clicked Parlay for a payout of $329.87 if both bets hit.

How is a Parlay Payout Calculated?

BetMGM automatically calculates parlay odds; you don’t need to worry about the math. However, here’s a breakdown if you’d like to know:

  • First, using a betting odds converter, you must convert American odds into decimal odds. The Tigers (+110) are 2.1 in decimal odds, and the Braves-Nationals (-115) are 1.87.
  • Multiply the decimal odds (2.1 x 1.87) to get your multiplier (3.927).
  • Multiply the multiplier (3.927) by your wager amount ($84) for the payout ($329.87).

But the customer didn’t stop at two bets; they loaded 10 bets into a parlay with a payout of $72,286. And after the Tigers’ victory, they were nine bets away from the high five-figure payout.

The second bet hit when the Braves and Nationals combined for eight runs (over 7.5) in the first three innings of an eventual Nationals’ win, followed by the third bet at 6:54 p.m. ET when Justin Upton’s game-ending double play sealed the Los Angeles Angels 4-2 loss (under 9) to the Houston Astros. And four hours later, at 10:46 p.m., the 10th bet hit when Brad Boxberger completed the Milwaukee Brewers’ (-110) one-hit shutout of the Chicago Cubs.

For those scoring at home, the customer’s day included 586 minutes of thrilling baseball and a $72,286 payout on an $84 investment — a return of 86,054 percent. If they had split the $84 into 10 separate bets of $8.40 apiece, the payout would’ve been $165.32, including the $84 stake for a profit of $81.32.

Instead, the 10-team parlay netted $72,202.

Pre-Packaged Parlays

You can build a parlay from scratch by adding eligible bets, or you can select a pre-packaged parlay built for you.

Available for single sports or multiple sports, a pre-packaged parlay or Cross Sport Parlay combines bets, some of which might not be available as a single bet, into a parlay. In addition to the 10-team self-built parlay on April 6, the customer could have placed a separate wager on a Cross Sport Parlay (+225) that included wins from the New York Mets and the New York Islanders.

What is Parlay Insurance?

Your entire Sunday is planned out: Nine hours of basketball.

From tip-off of the Brooklyn Nets vs. Milwaukee Bucks at 3:30 p.m. ET until the final horn of the Toronto Raptors vs. Los Angeles Lakers after midnight, you’re watching eight NBA games. And you’re building a $25 money line parlay around four of those games.

You hit on the Nets, Miami Heat (at Charlotte), and Phoenix Suns (at Oklahoma City) and need a Lakers’ win to collect more than $100. Instead, Pascal Siakam scores 35 points in an upset win, the Raptors’ sixth straight win over the Lakers on the road.

Parlay gone, right? Not with parlay insurance. Occasionally offered as a promotion, parlay insurance protects Raptors’ upset wins and other one-game parlay misses with coverage up to a predetermined amount.

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Our BetMGM editors and authors are sports experts with a wealth of knowledge of the sports industry at all levels. Their coverage includes sports news, previews and predictions, fun facts, and betting.

Our BetMGM editors and authors are sports experts with a wealth of knowledge of the sports industry at all levels. Their coverage includes sports news, previews and predictions, fun facts, and betting.